When does a mene begin and end?

Players often have questions about when a mene begins and ends.

Actually, the rules don’t contain the concept (or at least, not a substantive concept) of a mene ending. It is precisely because the rules say nothing on this topic that there are questions and disagreements about when a mene ends. International umpire Mike Pegg says that a mene ends when the last boule is thrown. The FPUSA rules interpretations say that a mene ends when the points have been agreed.

What is important in the rules is not when a mene ends but when it begins. When a mene begins is important in two different situations, and the rules for when a mene begins may be different for those two situations.

A late-arriving player
The first situation is when a late-arriving player arrives and is ready to join the game. In this situation the player must wait until the start of the next mene before joining the game (see Article 33). Note that the rules about when a mene begins changed with the 2016 revision of the rules. In earlier versions of the rules, a mene was considered to begin with the successful throw of the jack. In the 2016 version of the rules, Article 33 says

A mene is considered to have started when the jack has been thrown regardless of the validity of the throw.


The time-limit signal is announced
The second situation is when the time-limit signal is announced (usually by the sound of a whistle or bell) in a time-limited game. Typically when the time-limit is announced players may finish the current mene and then (depending on the competition rules) play one or two additional menes.

Competition rules often include rules (for that particular competition, for the purposes of working within time-limits) about when a mene is considered to begin. Possible rules for the second and subsequent menes include—

  1. A mene begins when the jack has been thrown (successfully or not).
  2. A mene begins when the jack has been successfully placed.
  3. A mene begins when the first boule of the mene has been thrown.
  4. A mene begins after the last boule of the previous mene has been thrown.
  5. A mene begins after the points have been agreed at the end of the previous mene.

For time-limited games during Eurocup tournaments, the CEP uses option #5.

A new end will be considered as started as soon as the result of the previous end is known.

So does the 2015 version of the FPUSA rules interpretations.

A new end will be considered as started as soon as the result of the previous end is known.

The Petanque New Zealand umpire’s guide uses option #4. Note that the opening paragraph in this quotation is written as if it is discussing a question about when a mene ends, but the wording of the first bullet point makes it clear that the discussion is really about when a mene begins.

When the time signal is sounded, players decide if all boules of the end have been played and have come to a stop. If so, that end has finished (regardless of measuring and deciding points). It is the most objective point at which to make a decision re the end of an end, as it does not allow players to ‘play for time’ through measuring, deciding points, calling the umpire etc. So when the time signal is sounded…

  • If the last boule of the end has been played and come to a stop, you have officially started the new end and are therefore able to play that end, plus the tournament’s official ends.
  • If the last boule of the end has NOT been played or NOT stopped, you finish the end and then play the tournament’s official ends.

The PNZ umpire’s guide is clear that this rule is NOT to be used for determining when a late-arriving player may join the game.

This rule applies only in timed games to determine how many ends remain to be played after the time signal is sounded. It is not used for any other purpose.


Players sometimes say “the jack must be thrown within a minute after the end of the previous mene.” But that is not what the rules say. What the actual rule, in Article 21, says is–

Once the jack is thrown, each player has the maximum duration of one minute to play his boule. This short period of time starts from the moment that the previously played boule or jack stops or, if it is necessary to measure a point, from the moment the latter [the measurement] has been accomplished. … The same requirements apply to the throwing of the jack.

The rules do NOT say that that the jack must be thrown within a minute after the end of the previous mene. They say that that the jack must be thrown within a minute after the last boule thrown in the previous mene has come to rest (or, if measurement was necessary to determine which team holds the point, after the completion of measurement). There is no mention of “the end of the previous mene”.

Rather unrealistically, the rules assume that the agreement of points occurs instantaneously after the last boule was thrown (or measurements were completed). This isn’t a problem because, during actual play, time spent during the agreement of points is treated as time spent in measuring.


There are a few places where the expression “the end of the mene” does occur in the rules. One place is in Article 27.

Article 27 – Picked-up Boules
It is forbidden for players to pick up played boules before the end of the mene. At the end of a mene, any boule picked up before the agreement of points is dead.

Here, use of the expression “the end of the mene” helps make the assumed context of the rule clearer but doesn’t affect the substance of the rule itself. You could eliminate all references to “the end of the mene” without changing the rule.

Article 27 – Picked-up Boules
It is forbidden for players to pick up played boules before the agreement of points. Any boule picked up before the agreement of points is dead.

The other place where you can find the expression “the end of the mene” is in Article 13—

Article 13 – Jack displaced into another game
If, during a mene, the jack is displaced onto another game terrain… the players using this jack will wait for the end of the mene that was started by the players on the other game terrain, before finishing their own mene.

Here, “waiting for the end of the mene” is an important part of the rule, but the expression is not being used as a technical term. It simply means waiting for one game to finish using a patch of ground so that the other game can use it without the two games interfering with each other.


This post is an excerpt from the next edition of A Guide to the Rules of Petanque, now in preparation.


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